I was sick recently. Nothing that requires a lot of treatment or even life changes. But something that altered a couple of weeks and a few of my activities of daily living.
One of the things I had was an eye infection. I haven’t had one of those since I was a teenager. It was the first fall we lived in a new city and I wasn’t used to what was in the air. The doctor told me that I would likely have to go without my contacts until the first frost. When he saw the stricken look on my face, he explained that would happen in about a week or so.
I have worn glasses since I was in 3rd grade. I should have had them earlier, honestly, and I’m glad that they screen children at younger ages now.
Whenever I have an eye exam, the big “E” is fuzzy. Without any lens correction, I really only know that it is an “E” from experience. I am miserably nearsighted and have unfortunately always chosen to sit in the back of a classroom. This was unfortunate in the first and second grades when I did not wear glasses and information was written on the chalkboard in the front of the room.
It didn’t dawn on me, apparently, that I should be able to see the board. And it also didn’t dawn on me to ask for help. But, I found a way to work around my problem. We had those desks where you lift the lid and put your things inside it. I would put my pencil on the top of the desk, lift the lid, and go get my pencil from the aisle towards the front of the room. I did this over and over until I was able to get all of the information.
I don’t remember how it came about that my parents took me to get my eyes checked, but in 3rd grade, I started wearing glasses. Good academically, but not so good socially. These were those thick lenses back in the day before they learned how to make thick lenses weigh less. I had large frames and struggled to keep them up on my face from the weight of them. I begged my parents for contact lenses and finally got them in the 8th grade. I’ve been mostly glasses-free since the 8th grade, until this week.
I woke up last week with another eye infection and couldn’t keep my eye open. Light hurt. I couldn’t drive or go outside without sunglasses, and I couldn’t read or write. I went from blissfully independent to totally dependent in just about every area of my world. Thankfully, it was over in a few days but helped me to realize what an amazing blessing good vision is, whether it happens naturally or thanks to corrective lenses.
Of all the things I would list that I am thankful for, until last week “vision” would likely not have made that list. Now, it’s in my top 10. I had a friend ask, in context of this problem, which I would rather lose: my vision or my hearing. If I had to choose one, I would choose to lose my hearing. As much as I would mourn the loss of music and other sounds, I would mostly maintain independence even without the sense of hearing. If I lost my sight, I would have to depend on family and friends to get to work and get home. I would have to learn Braille. I would miss facial expressions and other non-verbal communication that complements the verbal. And, I would miss seeing the good around me.